Joel-Peter Witkin (American, born 1939) was born in Brooklyn, New York, the twin-brother to painter Jerome Witkin. As a young child he witnessed a fatal car crash which left a deep impression on him. In 1954 he bought his first camera, a "Kodak Pony", and only one year later one of his photographs was part of the exhibition Masterpieces of Photography from the Museum Collection, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Between 1957 and 1961 he worked as an assistant photographer in a commercial studio. In 1961 he enlisted in the US Army with the intention of photographing the war, but never actually saw combat in Vietnam. Afterwards Witkin worked as a freelance photographer for commercial photographs between 1965 and 1974. In 1970 MoMA chose some of his photographs for the permanent collection. In the 1980s he had his first international exhibitions, also in Europe.